Expected Starter Offers Sneak Preview of ‘Violent’ Eagles Defense

Reed Blankenship

Getty Safety Reed Blankenship is fighting for a starting spot in what is expected to be a violent Eagles defense in 2023.

One of the biggest question marks this summer is what will the revamped Philadelphia Eagles’ defense looked like under new coordinator Sean Desai. Rumors predict a more aggressive, attacking version than the one Jonathan Gannon ran during his two seasons at the helm.

Players on that side of the ball have been keeping specifics under wraps, presumably as instructed by the coaching staff. They don’t want any secrets getting out to the other 31 teams ahead of the season opener. However, second-year safety Reed Blankenship did throw a few buzzwords on it. Desai has been preaching “violence” and “palpability” to his guys.

“I don’t want to get a lot into scheme and stuff but we’re working on everybody just communicating right now,” Blankenship told reporters. “He talks about being palpable. Once people watch it on TV, they’ll feel it. We want to be violent, and so that’s our top goal right now.”

A violent defense checks out with Buddy Ryan’s historic units of the late 1980s and early 1990s, then revived again in the 2000s under Jim Johnson. For a heat-seeking missile like Blankenship — remember the Packers game? — it’s the perfect recipe.

“That’s how you play football,” Blankenship said. “It’s a violent sport and you run and hit. That’s what I’ve been doing since I was little.”

Situational Football Another Point of Emphasis

Situational football, mainly as it related to down and distance, has been another point of emphasis early in minicamp for the Eagles. Nicholas Morrow might be the newest guy in the room, but he’s already taking on a leadership role. He’s slated to start alongside Nakobe Dean which makes him another credible source of information about Desai’s philosophy.

“I don’t want to give away too much, but in the team meetings, we are constantly going over it [situational football]. Every time we have a team meeting, we bring up situations,” Morrow told reporters. “And everyone’s up. Anyone could be asked a question, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to understand what’s going on in a game.”

Morrow was running with the first-team defense on June 1, with Dean wearing the green dot and calling out plays. Those two top the depth chart, with Christian Elliss, Shaun Bradley, and Davion Taylor fighting for second-team snaps. Linebacker remains an interesting position to watch at camp. It always is.

Competition Rules the Roost in Eagles Secondary

Everyone has Nick Sirianni’s five core principles memorized at this point, right? Just a refresher: Connecting, competition, accountability, intelligence, and fundamentals. New defensive backs coach D.K. McDonald focused on the connecting part when talking about the secondary.

He’s expecting good battles this summer at the safety spot — Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds are getting the first-team reps right now — and the backup nickel cornerback position between Greedy Williams, Zech McPhearson, and Josiah Scott.

“The fun thing is we got a lotta guys that we can go to and they get to compete every day which is fun,” McDonald told reporters. “And that’s one of the hallmarks of this organization, that they get to compete and that’s what they’re doing. That’s what right now is all about and that’s what camp is all about, is guys going out and competing and seeing who can step up.”

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